Friday, January 29, 2010

Be your OWN mother!

I've been struggling with a bit of anxiety this pregnancy. Money issues, running a home business, having a willful two year-old - these things all add up. So like many women, I run to my mom for advice. For the purpose of argument, let's do a little poll.

Raise your hand if you call your mom for advice. Keep it raised if your mom's advice often conflicts with your parenting philosophy. Keep it raised if you let this bother you or challenge your ideals. Hopefully you put your hand down at some point. If not, read on.

The thing is that on the parenting spectrum my mom and I stand on opposite ends of the spectrum. She's pro-CIO, crib-sleeping, bottle feeding, and disposable diapering, and, as you might have guessed, I am not. Now when it comes to those big parenting issues, I am able to easily overrule her in my mind. It's the more subtle issues she seems to have influence over.

In my mind I can hear her reminding me that my husband would be happier if the house was cleaner. My son could potty train if I really stuck to it. It's less important to take my toddler out for activities now, because he won't remember them anyway. And, of course, I need to just buckle down and get to work at all times. - if I'm too pregnant to carry a laundry basket up and down the stairs all day without tiring out than I can just take a load down in 2 or 3 trips.

This is a constant commentary running through my head. And when I compare her home to mine, mine always falls short. I'd love to have a really neat, clean home all the time.

Here's the thing though. I have a toddler. I'm pregnant. I have other interests. I don't like to be home all day while my husband is at work.

So where does that leave us? In the land of mommy guilt - you've been there. This is the place where you compare yourself to other moms and come up lacking. And while I find my other mom friends have many strengths, it's always the expectations of my mother that get me down - or at least, the expectations I imagine she has.

And I've let myself become overwhelmed by them. I'm literally making myself sick over it. Now my husband knows me and he felt the need to bring this up at our prenatal appointment with my midwife yesterday.

Well, my midwife is a gem and never minds playing therapist a bit at appointments and she told me about the book My Mother, Myself. The basic premise? We view ourselves in terms of our own mothers. The advice? We have to stop thinking like our mothers and start thinking like mothers. Instead of thinking about what our mothers would say or seeking their advice, it's important we start to think in terms of what we would tell our daughters. Important because it helps to establish authority over our own lives and because it will help us establish the relationship we want to have with our daughters rather than being doomed to bring our own mother-daughter relationships into the equation.

So the next time, your mom's voice starts to run through your head, hit the stop button and switch tracks and ask yourself, what would you say to your daughter?


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